SURPRISE Sweet Sixteen

In September I took on my greatest Cricut craft project since purchasing my Cricut back in May…my daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party! I LOVE coordinating events and just seeing my vision come together and I love that my daughters let me use them as my guinea pigs. Since I live 850 miles away from my girls because of my husband’s job this event took a little more effort in the planning, especially since it was a surprise party. Of course the first thing I did was enlist her “BFF” to help with the guest list and picking the appropriate color scheme and I went from there. Here are photos of my before, during, and after of her party.

Let me start by introducing my beautiful daughter Jaymee Lynn (I know, a very Southern name and I LOVE it!)

Jaymee's "official" sweet 16 photo. This photo was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio, TX
Jaymee’s “official” sweet 16 photo. This photo was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio, TX

The next photos are the beginning stages of all the banners and other items that I made. The banners were hung with ribbon by simply using a hole punch to thread the ribbon through each letter.

This banner would be used to hang over the gifts table.
This banner would be used to hang over the gifts table.
This banner would be used to hang over the food table. Having a pasta bar is not only fun but really cuts down of the expense overall for food.
This banner would be used to hang over the food table. Having a pasta bar is not only fun but really cuts down on the expense overall for food.
This banner would be used to hang over
This banner would be used to hang over the candy bar and cake table.
Labeling the candy jars. I always like to have everything laid out before I start a project.
Labeling the candy jars. I always like to have everything laid out before I start a project.
Completed candy jars just waiting to be filled with sweet yummy goodness.
Completed candy jars just waiting to be filled with sweet yummy goodness.
These bags were for guests to fill full of their favorite candies.
These bags were for guests to fill full of their favorite candies.

And here’s when it all comes together!!!

CANDY!!!
CANDY!!!
Using purple ribbon, the sweet sixteen banner was hung and accompanied by all of the photos that were taken of Jaymee at the Japanese Tea Garden.
Using purple ribbon, the sweet sixteen banner was hung and accompanied by all of the photos that were taken of Jaymee at the Japanese Tea Garden.
Delicious cake made by the local Publix bakery.
Delicious cake made by the local Publix bakery.
These balloon centerpieces were on each table. Within each centerpiece were photos of Jaymee at each of her birthdays from 1st to 15th as well as photos of her throughout the years.
These balloon centerpieces were on each table. Within each centerpiece were photos of Jaymee at each of her birthdays from 1st to 15th as well as photos of her throughout the years.
My 3 beautiful kids! Jaymee was sooo surprised and excited to see her little brother! Kayla enjoyed helping out in the surprise and did an amazing job helping me decorate.
My 3 beautiful kids! Jaymee was sooo surprised and excited to see her little brother! Kayla enjoyed helping out in the surprise and did an amazing job helping me decorate.

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Most Anticipated Post All Year! My Elf On The Shelf Adventures of 2012!

So for you folks who do not know about Elf On The Shelf, well bless your heart! Look it up…try Google (amazing little thing Google is, huh?!) Anywho, for those who are very familiar with the little red elf, whether it be that he resides at your home each year or you’re enduring all your friends post photo after photo on Facebook (yes I’m one of those folks!), I’m going to share our adventures this year. 

This is our second year of the little red guy visiting us each night and I have to admit, the creative juices are starting to run out. I made myself a promise to not cheat and look online for ideas this year. I’m not saying it’s wrong to search Pinterest for hours or copy off other people’s Facebook pics so that’s why I’m sharing with everyone this post. Maybe you’ll find some fresh ideas to get you through the next few days until it’s time for your little elf to head back home. I’m sure some of our elf’s little antics have been done before (maybe they discuss strategy when they head back to the North Pole every night to check in with ole Saint Nick) but I can honestly say, I’ve done my best to be “original”. 

Let me start by saying, I usually have NO CLUE what our elf might come up with until long after my 4 year old has gone to bed. Oh! Let me throw in this disclaimer before I go any further: If you’re one of those who has an elf that just sits there and maybe every other day or so moves from one end table to the next…I ain’t hatin’ ya…your kid might, but who am I to judge! Back to my point of gathering ideas, the elf genius comes from standing in my kid’s playroom thinking “What in the H_ _ _ am I going to come up with next?!”

It’s really been a challenge this year because we’ve spent part of our time in our RV…Holy Limited Space And Props Batman!  I hope you enjoy our elf, his name is Jingles by the way…left that out earlier. Here’s to another year of crazy elf-ness!

Jingles making his presence known on the first day of Elf season

2012
My child is a Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong freak. He thought it was cool that his elf wanted to play with him.
2012
“Elf SMASH!” (Guess you’d have to have the Hulk toy to get this one.)
2012
Way to repurpose that left over pumpkin from Halloween!
2012
Ahhhh yes! Spa day! Complete with marshmallow bubble bath and a gauze towel.
2012
I’m not big on paying a ton for props so a .99 bag of bows fit right in my budget.
2012
That’s just funny stuff right there. Even changing the wording on the frame.
2012
Tree climbing elf!
2012
Nothing like waking up to streamer everywhere.
2012
Taken hostage by ninjas…those ninjas are pretty sneaky!
Note to self: Never put your husband in charge of toothpaste decor! That stuff dries up quicker than a pond in Texas during the heat of summer.
We’re headed back home. No elf left behind!
So the elf got put in the front seat with me as to help my child not fall into the temptation of touching it (check out elf rule #1). I thought it only appropriate that he help navigate.
ok, what’s funny about this pic is the fact that Rex is playing Whack A Mole…seriously, with those arms?!
Red Solo Cup Elf! One of my faves!
This was the original plan on the night of Red Solo Cup Elf. My husband said it wasn’t very G rated. I still find it funny!
All of the bad guys joined forces (haters!) to tie up the elf. I guess they figured he was getting too much attention.
On the day that all the bad guys tied up the elf, my son says “It would be funny if Jingles tied them up.” Why yes son! It WOULD be funny…thank you for helping me plan ahead that day and knowing what would be next on the antics list.
Again, I don’t like to spend a lot on props and it seems like these that are the most simple are the ones my son enjoys the most.
We finally got our holiday plans figured out and low and behold, the elf decided that we needed our tree put up! Yay!!!! So glad I didn’t have to fool with it!
Let’s play ball! I still think it would be funny if someone had one of those 3D stickers that looks like a baseball has been thrown through the window. Talk about an elf needing some money for an insurance deductible!
Getting chocolate wasted!
Oh my!!! This one earned a bent over belly laugh by a 4 year old!!!
Just hanging around.
p.s. for those of you who didn’t know, it is safe to cut the little string off the elf’s hands. Bread ties work GREAT for tricks like this one when you need their hands back together.
Another one of those nights of standing around waiting for inspiration to jump out at me! Thanks to a little bit of flour, a long toothpick, and 3 marshmallows…a snowman was born!
At dinner my son had practiced using chopsticks. My husband brought them home and taa daa…instant idea! Yay!
Oh Cricut how I love thee! Apparently Jingles loves it too!
I had made mention that if the elf can put up the tree then he should start wrapping presents too. Glad somebody listens to me in this house! Ha!
You can always count on a dry erase crayon to get you through tough times! And it cleans off things much easier than lipstick!

And to add a little extra to this post, here’s a trip down memory lane at the fun we had our first year with the little red guy!

Who knew elves knew how to drive tractors!
Just doing a little cooking.
Jingles arrived on a snowflake parachute!
Yeee haww partner!
Another one of the times that this wasn’t my original plan…the original plan was for the elf to be eaten by a shark but that was frowned upon by management.
Yup…Jingles can spell!
Just chillin’ on the beach.
Hanging out in the tree. Clearly not one of my most creative/original ideas.
Gotta hate it when that happens. Now he knows how some cats feel!
This was probably my favorite last year. My husband came walking in with this big rock and we just kind of went from there. I made the hook, attached the goldfish and of course my husband added the “tree” for extra appeal.
Glad he learned pretty quick to stay out of my coffee!
Cookie dunking! It took 2.9 seconds for my child to eat the cookies on the counter!
“There’s an elf in my boot!” Get it? From Toy Story?
My son was OBSESSED with cheese balls. This did not go over well.
Jingles reading his autobiography.
Best part about this day? New coloring books!
GASP! Someone touched Jingles!! He was sick all day!
Slam Dunk Jingles!
Ah yes! No practical joke is complete without a little TP’ing!
Another one I loved! Roasting marshmallows over a tootsie roll fire.

Another one I loved! Roasting marshmallows over a tootsie roll fire.

It's E.T. (Elf Terrestrial)

It’s E.T. (Elf Terrestrial)

Let's go racing boys!

Let’s go racing boys!

Candy case rope climbing

Candy cane rope climbing

Did you know elf milk is green?!

Did you know elf milk is green?!

Our elf does laundry! He's definitely welcomed back every year.

Our elf does laundry! He’s definitely welcomed back every year.

We made it our vacation spot in Florida.

We made it our vacation spot in Florida.

Jingles enjoying some Florida sun!

Jingles enjoying some Florida sun!

We were sad to see him go.

We were sad to see him go.

I hope everyone that has an Elf On The Shelf enjoys it as much as we do. This is the best time of the year for us and we have so much fun with it! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Crock Pot Pork Carnitas

I wish I could take credit for inventing this recipe but I can’t. I can definitely take credit for it being on my menu list on an almost weekly basis though. My dear friend from high school contributed this recipe to my daughter’s cheerleading team’s cookbook (which has turned into my recipe Bible at this point). I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do. Seriously! It’s awesome!

Crock Pot Pork Carnitas

1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 boneless pork shoulder roast
3 bay leaves
1 can beef broth

Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of crock pot and place pork on top. Pour broth around sides of pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture. Cover and cook on low until pork shreds easily with fork, approximately 6 hours. Turn meat over after 4 hours. When pork is tender, remove from crock pot and shred with two forks. Disgard bay leaves. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat. Can be served in tortillas with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, sour cream, and hot sauce. A side of black beans and/or rice can complete your meal.

Enjoy!

What Happens When A Southern Girl Heads North

When I started this blog I knew that I would be embracing my Southern roots but boy oh boy I had no idea how much I would be reflecting on them until now. Let me start by saying this is not a “Let’s bash the North” post but rather a comparison of the things I’ve encountered since we left on our journey last Saturday.

Just a little background as to the reason why I would even CONSIDER an extended stay in the north, let alone one during the winter. My husband’s job ended in Texas and his most solid job offer was in North Dakota. So after much discussion, prayer, and consultations from Nate’s dad, we decided to purchase an RV and head north. The RV was a must have for many reasons, mainly from a financial stand point and because of our dog. Hotels for some reason welcome little annoying yappy dogs all day long but intimidated by a large dog…whatever!

Back to our journey…we left Texas last Saturday after a very long day of prep. Nothing like taking your car for a front end alignment and finding out yet another tire is bad (Goodyear is the worst tire made in my opinion). After a lot of hustle we got that fixed. Then it was on to getting the brake system on our truck fixed before we started towing the RV. 6:00 pm rolled around and were finally on our way. We only made it 150 miles before exhaustion kicked in and we stopped for the night. Bright and early the next morning we left out of Brady, TX and continue on. Lordy Texas is a BIG state! We made a stop in some little town in Texas for lunch and to celebrate our little man’s 4th birthday. In the midst of all the chaos surrounding this huge decision we still made time for the important things in life. So on through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and South Dakota we go. We stopped for the evening in Rapid City, SD. The next morning we made a stop by Sturgis and visited the Full Throttle Saloon…LOVE IT! We continued our journey to Watford City, ND and could not find a decent RV park anywhere. Tired, exhausted, and stressed beyond belief we decide to head for the closest “big” town, Williston, ND. This is where things went south (no pun intended) and my opinions of the north begin.

Besides the obvious Southern draw, the overly used expression “bless your heart”, and the embedded manners of using the term ma’am and sir when addressing folks (yes, we call them folks, not people) the South is just nice. We’re nice to folks whether they’re our neighbor or enemy, we’re nice to our family, we’re nice to our pets…we’re just nice. The folks in the north seem to have missed that memo. When we hit about the Kansas state line it was like a switch was flipped. You can walk into a gas station and say hello and the cashier looks at you like you’re speaking a foreign language. Even my just turned 4 year old said “Thank you sir” to a guy that held the door open for him and the guy looked at him like he had just said a cuss word. Since we’ve been in North Dakota we’ve dealt with nothing but rudeness. No sense of customer service, no sense of compassion…nothing but attitudes as cold as the weather. Now I’m not saying that every single person who lives “up north” is rude or lacks compassion…this is just what I’ve experienced in 4 states in the last week. These people need to loosen up…smile every once in awhile…develop a sense of humor. It’s really kinda bumming me out.

Who knows how long we’ll be here but one thing’s for sure…I’m not going to let the Grumpy McGrumpy’s change my Southern way of life but rather give me greater sense of pride of how I was raised. I will continue to use my Southern twang when saying my ma’am’s and sir’s and not deter my son from being polite even in the face of someone who hasn’t ever been introduced to the wrong end of a plum switch. At the end of the day all I can do is walk out with my chin up and just shake my head and say “bless their hearts”.

Holy Guacamole Recipe

Another food I’ve acquired the taste of since living in Texas is guacamole. I simply was NOT a fan of it in Florida. I don’t know if it was the way it was made, my mentality that it looked gross or what but either way, I didn’t like it. I’ve tried several different versions and here’s my take on it and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!! Some might find it too complicated and just go back to the tried and true avocado mushed up way but others might say they’ve finally found a guacamole recipe they can love as much as I do. This recipe is chunkier with veggies and adds a little more excitement to the basic recipes.

Fresh veggies ready to be turned into guacamole 

Here ya go!

2 avocados

1/3 c tomato, chopped

1/3 c onion, chopped

1/4 c cilantro, chopped

1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1/4 orange

juice of 1/2 lime

1-2 tsp salt/pepper mix

Half , pit, and scoop avocados then chop and add to mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well.  Mixing all ingredients continuously for 3-5 minutes will break down the avocados to the consistency most are accustomed to when eating guacamole.  Use potato masher if needed to get a creamier result. 

Homemade guacamole and margarita. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Busy, busy summer!

Holy cow! I knew I hadn’t blogged in awhile but gosh, I’ve been a complete slacker! I’ve had such a busy summer and I hope I can recap everything into one post.

Let’s see, June brought Father’s Day and my birthday. I made a super cute craft for Nate for Father’s Day that incorporated his hand with both Tristan and Ethan’s hands and he absolutely LOVED it! I received the Cricut Expression 2 as my Mother’s Day/Anniversary gift so I was thankful to have that to do the lettering for the frame. 

Father’s Day 2012

My birthday was filled with all kinds of fun that involved Magic Mike, beer, and Boba Fett! We saw the movie at an awesome theater that serves food and drinks during the movie! We honestly didn’t care if the movie was good or not…we had beer and Channing Tatum.

Getting ready to see Magic Mike! (notice the big JUG of beer! It was awesome!)

OH! Did I mention my friends “gifted” me with a life size cut out of Boba Fett?! He was standing at my front door on my birthday and luckily my husband didn’t shoot him when he left for work that morning.

Mandy, Kat, and Boba Fett

July brought more birthdays, 4th of July (of course), my first attempt at a beer pong tournament, my daughter came to Texas for a short visit, and trip to Florida to visit our family and attend my (gulp) 20 year reunion!!!  

If you even know me a little bit I can be a bit of a prankster…so with my friends thinking they had the upper hand on me with the whole surprise Boba Fett thing at my door I felt paybacks were in order.  For Mandy’s birthday our whole group of friends decided to show up unannounced at her house and basically have a pretend BBQ complete with BBQ pit, empty beer keg, radio, cooler of beer…you name it we had it! It was pretty awesome although Mandy’s husband (who was recovering from the previous night’s beer pong tournament) didn’t find it very amusing.

BBQ at Mandy’s…SURPRISE!

Beer Pong Tournament…and can I just say, the girls kicked butt!

My friend Kat’s birthday was also during July and she let it slip out that she HATES pigs! Well, of course I made a mental note and left these cute little fellas all in her yard along with a good old fashioned forking! I had a great time drawing up these pigs!

Happy Birthday Kat!

My youngest daughter made her way to Texas in mid July. Our time together is so precious to me and I just soaked up every minute I could. (another reason why I haven’t blogged in forever) We spent our time checking out a few of the tourist hot spots that we hadn’t gone to the last time she was here. She’s absolutely IN LOVE with the city and is already making plans to move here for college so I’m super excited about that possibility. We also visited the Japanese Tea Gardens http://www.saparksfoundation.org/japaneseteagarden.html 

and took some photos that will be used as her “official” Sweet 16 pictures. We visited the Riverwalk a couple of times and her favorite part was seeing how beautiful it is at night.  

Enjoying an evening at the Riverwalk

Sweet 16 sneak peek!

After a week in Texas we began our 14 hour drive to Florida. Nate had been there for a few days and was soaking up that wonderful Florida sun and Tristan was chomping at the bits to see his Daddy, see his Papa, and of course play on the beach. No road trip is complete without a stop at The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, MS. By far THE BEST BBQ ever!!! 

http://theshedbbq.com/

Get Fed at The Shed!

We had a great time just enjoying time with all the kids and I finally got to spend some time with my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. My 20 year reunion was a 2 night event and it was great to see old friends and take a walk down memory lane. 

Sunset in Panama City Beach, FL

Even Superman got to go to the beach!

My not-so baby girls!

20 year reunion

So far August has brought our little family trying to get back into routine again. Tristan is back at t-ball practice, Nate is back at work, the dog is happy to be at home, and I’m still cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and trying to stay cool. We did have another Mom’s Night Out event that was a wigging out theme. We all wore wigs and went out to a couple of restaurants for food and drinks. We had a BLAST! I did learn that if/when I wear my wig again I have got to come up with a better game plan for putting all this hair up.  

“Wigging” Out!

As far as all my plants that I was sooo proud of…this Texas heat has been tough on them and I’m still trying to revive them since my trip to Florida. 100+ degree heat plus no watering for a few days did a number on them all. I was able to get a good batch of basil picked before I left and we made some really good basil pesto using a recipe from my friend Tara’s blog at www.dellaroseliving.com.

Find the recipe here: http://www.dellaroseliving.com/basil-pesto-recipe/.

I hope to be back very soon with some new recipes and to share some more fun stories! 

Reinventing the pot pie!

Anyone who has family member with food allergies knows what a challenge it can be to reinvent new recipes. We have a chicken allergy in our home so I’m always looking for a new twist in all the traditional recipes that have chicken as the main component. With a ton of pork left from my crock pot carnitas I certainly didn’t want to waste it so I went on the hunt to “recycle” it into another recipe.  I also didn’t want to go out for ingredients and so began my quest to make a pot pie completely from scratch! It turned out amazing and I’m happy to share this recipe with you.

Pork Pot Pie

Crust 

2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 c + 2 T milk
2 tsp rosemary

In medium bowl mix flour, salt, and rosemary. In separate bowl mix oil and milk. Slowly pour milk/oil mixture into flour mixture and stir. Most people will use their blender with the pastry attachment but I don’t have one so I just mixed with spoon and then finally with hands, kneading the dough until ball is formed. Place in ziploc bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When ready to bake pot pie, remove dough from refrigerator, cut in half and roll 1/2 half flat until it lays flat in pie dish. Roll out second have to place on top of pot pie filling.
**Note-I did have to work the dough out a little by hand before rolling with rolling pin.

Pot Pie Filling

1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c flour
14 oz beef broth
3/4 c milk
2 c pork
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 c mixed veggies (fresh frozen bags works great)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Pre-heat oven to  400°.  Melt butter in large cooking pot then slowly add flour and stir. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly to remove lumps from flour. Once all broth has been added, stir in milk and simmer until thick. Add pork, veggies, cheese, salt, and pepper and cook until heated throughly and veggies are done. Pour into prepared pie crust and top with top crust. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Let the pie “rest” for approximately 10 minutes before cutting.

“I NEED this recipe!!”

Ah yes, the words every cook loves to hear….I need this recipe! I hosted a Mom’s Night In event last night at my home and true to all things Southern and hospitable I had tons of food and drinks. Every item on the table got rave reviews by the wonderful ladies that attended so I thought it would be easier to just put all the recipes into one blog post for them and for everyone else that would like to try them. I do have to be completely honest, not a one of these recipes are my own. I found a couple on Pinterest and a couple belong to my friends. 

Yummy goodness from front to back!

From left to right, front to back here’s the list!

BLT Bites

BLT bites courtesy of Pinterest. Here’s the link! Also, a little hint…I don’t know about you but as much as I LOVE bacon, I hate that my house smells of bacon for days. I cooked up my bacon the day before the party and stored in the fridge until I was ready to construct my little sandwiches.

http://www.lanascooking.com/2010/04/26/blt-bites/

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip is on the front right corner. This is one of my oldest, dearest friend’s recipe that I have YET to master! Maybe I just like hers better because she’s usually making it for me! Here’s the recipe.

2 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c mayo
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz pack frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
14 oz can artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1/2 c Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together softened cream cheese and mayo until well blended. Add garlic, spinach, artichokes, and cheese and mix well. Pour into pie plate and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Serve with favorite crackers.

Right smack in the middle of the table is the most delicious dip I’ve ever tried/made! I found that recipe on Pinterest as well and it’s called Mississippi Sin. Here’s the link for that little slice of heaven!
 http://www.plainchicken.com/2010/11/mississippi-sin.html

In the bowl you’ll see some sausage balls. These things got two thumbs up and a trip or two back in the house for more “taste testing” by my husband. Another super easy recipe courtesy of Pinterest. 
 http://www.plainchicken.com/2011/09/cream-cheese-sausage-balls-football.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FwJJTP+%28Plain+Chicken%29

The fruit cake was brought by a friend and I do not have any information on that. Don’t think I’m just skipping over it. 🙂

Strawberry cheesecake bites

In the far back left corner is strawberry cheesecakes. How simple is this?! All you need is the Jello no bake cheesecake mix and strawberries! Mix up the cheesecake mix per package instructions, slice the strawberries in half and scoop out the middles, then pipe in the cheesecake mix. Garnish with the graham cracker crumbs that came in the cheesecake box.  One of my friends took this to a Kentucky Derby party and I loved the idea and the simplicity of it.

Margarita cupcakes

The infamous margarita cupcakes are in the middle backside of the table. I used two different resources for this treat.  I didn’t care for the icing listed in the first link so I found another site for icing that is delish!

For the cupcakes this recipe is the BEST!  http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/05/01/margarita-cupcakes/

For the icing I really liked this one. http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/05/05/margarita-cupcakes-with-tequila-lime-buttercream-frosting/

In the far back right is my final Pinterest inspired recipe, Stuffed Baguettes. This one, although yummy, was time consuming. 
 http://www.bakingobsession.com/2009/10/04/stuffed-baguette/

Pink Punk Cosmo with some Velata caramel chocolate dipping sauce for the strawberries, marshmallows, and pretzels.

For our drinks I made Pink Punk Cosmos…which I was introduced to at TGIFridays. 
 http://thepartyloft.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/cotton-candy/

As for the non-alcoholic drinks, I made a refreshing peach basil iced tea. Another friend had submitted this recipe for our cookbook fundraiser and thought that I would try it out finally!

Peach Basil Iced Tea 

3 Orange pekoe tea bags
1 c loosely packed fresh basil leaves
4 c water
5 cans peach nectar, 5.5 oz size, chilled
1 1/3 c sugar
1 1/4 c water
Peach slices and basil sprigs for garnish

Boil tea bags and basil in 4 cups of water. Let steep 5 minutes and strain through a sieve into pitcher. Cool tea and chill for approximately 1 hour. Stir in nectar and sugar and additional water. Serve over ice and garnish with peach slices and basil sprigs.

Serve all this stuff at your next party and you and I can share the title of “The Hostess With The Mostest”! Enjoy! 

 

Shrimp Sauce Recipe

Back home in Florida one of my favorite restaurants has the most glorious white sauce that is served over their grouper. I often crave that dish and the closest I’ve come to making something similar is buying the Philly cream cheese cooking cremes.

Last night while baking tilapia I decided that I needed some white sauce to add a little extra “love” to the dish. Since I was cooking creme-less, it was time to improvise! I must say, the cook outdid herself with this one and my husband was scraping the pan to get every last drop of it (sauce hog!!) I thought I’d share my recipe with you but keep in mind I didn’t really measure any of the seasonings so when I say a pinch, feel free to add less or more, depending on your preference.

Baked tilapia with shrimp sauce

Shrimp Sauce

2 T butter

1 T flour

1 c milk

1/4 c Parmesan cheese

1 T feta cheese

1 T sauteed onions

Pinch of the following: oregano, garlic powder, basil, parsley, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper

6-8 cooked shrimp, chopped

Melt butter on medium heat and add flour. Mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir until flour is well mixed. Add seasonings and cheeses and continue to stir over low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally so that milk does not burn. Add shrimp and continue to stir. Serve over fish or pasta.

 

Best Steak In San Antonio!

Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon

I’m certainly no food critic (although wouldn’t that be the best job EVER) but I am certainly a food expert! This girl LOVES to eat! I had originally planned to do one post on all my favorite places but this one deserves it’s own spotlight. When we happened upon this little slice of heaven of a steak house we fell in love! The atmosphere is all that cowboy Texas could possibly offer. The service was outstanding, the beer was cold, and the food was beyond the best we had found in San Antonio. Where is this place you ask? Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon! Yee Haw!

 http://www.tejassteakhouse.com/index.php

Although it’s well off the beaten path from the “touristy” type attractions of San Antonio, it’s well worth the drive north out of the hustle and bustle of the city life. Nestled deep in Hill Country, as soon as you pull up on the property you step into cowboy country. Horses and stables, beautiful stone work, picnic tables, wind mill, and even a stage and dance floor are all part of the property!  I give all the credit to my husband for finding our now favorite spot. He had taken our son to Tejas’ on site rodeo arena. When I say arena, I mean the whole kit and caboodle!  Tejas hosts weekly rodeos that draw a large crowd. http://www.tejasrodeo.com/

So what makes the place so special?

Well they must be doing something right for Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Texas” to film an episode there. Or maybe you could be lured in by their recent feature in San Antonio magazine’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants in San Antonio. 

What’s so great about the food?

Where do I start?! Before each meal you get a warm basket full of black pepper biscuits. That’s right…black pepper IN the biscuit! Take one bite and all you’ll be saying is “UMMMMM”!

Black pepper biscuits

Since I am a creature of habit, I always choose the Pan de Tejas as my appetizer. Flat bread with a layer of home made pesto (for real! They have their own herb garden on site!) cheese, greens, and fresh tomatoes to top it off. Yummm…my tummy is grumbling right now as I think about how delicious it is!  

For your main course, you can’t go wrong with ANY of the steak choices! No matter what your steak preference, you HAVE to get the green beans!!! They’ve received awards on their green beans…yes they’re that good!!  I also have a special place in my heart for all things mac n cheese so Tejas’ green pepper mac n cheese always makes me smile.  If you’re not in the mood for a steak, my son has tried the catfish, which of course we had to taste test and it is to die for as well. You seriously can’t and won’t go wrong with anything you pick on this menu!

KC Lite with green beans and green pepper mac n cheese

Oh, and did I mention dessert?!
HO-LY COW! I tried the peach cobbler (with scoop of vanilla ice cream of course). Seriously?! How can life get much better when you have homemade peach cobbler with REAL peaches??? It took all of my mommy strength to not gobble up every last bite but my cute little curly haired boy wanted some ice cream. 

Homemade peach cobbler

Another bonus…brunch! The bartender, Dan, makes the best mimosa I’ve ever had and my husband was pretty fond of their Bloody Mary. So to my friends and family, when you come to visit in San Antonio, plan on a short ride for the best meal you’ll ever have. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat some left overs! Yum!

A taste of Tejas!